The Houston Police Department announced on Saturday that it had located a Bengal tiger nearly a week after the animal was last seen roaming around a residential neighborhood.
The department announced in a tweet that the tiger “has been found and appears to be unharmed.”
In a subsequent post, Ronald Borza, the Houston Police Department's major offenders commander, was seen in a video petting the 9-month-old tiger, named India.
Borza at a press conference Saturday evening told reporters that the woman seen in the video feeding and hugging the tiger was the wife of Victor Hugo Cuevas, India's 26-year-old owner, who was taken into custody last week.
Cuevas was charged with evading arrest after he was allegedly seen putting the tiger in an SUV and fleeing his mother’s house in Richmond, Texas.
Borza said the wife, whom he identified as Gia Cuevas, contacted police on Saturday and “wanted to turn the tiger over to us.”
Owning a tiger is a misdemeanor in Houston, though owning tigers and other wild animals is allowed within the rest of Harris County under specific conditions.
“He was obviously agitated, and we got in the trailer with him, Gia fed him while we sat there and pet him,” Borza said about the tiger.
“The animal likes attention, but in no way, shape or form should you have an animal like that in your household,” he said, adding that the young tiger already weighs 175 pounds but could get up to 600 pounds at full size.
Borza told reporters that after the tiger was located and transferred to the police department, it was taken to the city’s animal shelter.
The commander added that the tiger is scheduled to be transported to a local animal sanctuary on Sunday, where Borza said India will “hopefully” live “the rest of his life in a very safe environment.”
In response to questions about whether the couple will face charges in connection with owning the animal, Borza said the “investigation is still ongoing,” adding that the priority Saturday was making sure the animal was brought to a safe location.
According to The New York Times, Cuevas had been charged with murder for shooting a man in 2017 but had been released on bond.
Last Wednesday, CNN asked Netflix’s “Tiger King” star Carol Baskin to comment on the loose tiger. Baskin, a large cats rights activist who owns an animal sanctuary, said that the incident pointed to the Senate’s failure to pass a law that would make large cat ownership illegal.
“You know, this has become kind of commonplace in Texas,” Baskin said. “And so I really hope that Sens. [Ted] Cruz [R-Texas] and [John] Cornyn [R-Texas] will sign on to the Big Cat Public Safety Act.”